It’s been a trying year here at Sorry Television. Sidetracked by work—and, let’s be honest, an endless procession of binge-worthy Netflix inventory—I am set to close out 2014 with a mere 32 books under my belt, near enough to bi-weekly that I should probably rebrand as You’re Welcome Television (subtitle: Reading Books Every So Often, Like When the Power Goes Out). I’m already planning redemptive 2015 reading goals (a book a day? a book an hour?) but for the time being I’ll have to accept mediocrity, and foist as much blame as possible on a shorter commute’s ability to stymie even the most dedicated bibliophile.
But I can claim a smidge of productivity this month, which is why I’m Indiana-Jonesing under the content door that is Christmas week to bring you The Irrefutable Best Books of 2014, a master list of this year’s greatest hits, as determined by 21 other “best of”s written by people who have actually read them. Let’s get into it.
In a bit of sheer serendipity, this year’s No. 1 book happens to be the only one I’ve read, in that I’m reading it right now: Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, which appeared on 11 out of the 21 lists surveyed. A gripping novel loosely centered on the 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley in Kingston, Jamaica—which took place two days before a free concert meant to ease political and gang tensions—ABHOSK (or the 40% of it I’ve read so far) is truly stellar; I’m not surprised to see it on The List.
At No. 2 is Lila, the fourth novel from universally beloved author Marilynne Robinson. Years ago, I read and liked/disliked Robinson’s Gilead (which is beautifully written but didn’t resonate with me on an emotional level) and I think the shame of my disinterest—after all, Obama called Gilead one of his favorite books—has kept me away from Robinson ever since. Lila, which is the third book in a loose trilogy that begins with Gilead, seems to cover similar territory as its predecessors: After a hardscrabble upbringing, Lila marries a minister and must find a way to reconcile her past with his generous-but-judgmental Christian worldview. Whether or not I personally struggle with faith, I certainly appreciate that it’s a conflict central to modern times. I’m sure Robinson does it exquisite justice; 10 lists can’t be wrong.
The rest of this year’s crop is a mixed bag, a hodgepodge of styles and genres and subject matters. There’s The Sixth Extinction, a nonfiction “oh shit” moment whose tl;dr is everythingsdyingwerealldead. Just below T6E comes Phil Klay’s Redeployment, a timely collection of stories about soldiers on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan (which also won this year’s National Book Award for fiction). Two books by the inimitable Roxane Gay made the list—her novel, An Untamed State, and essay collection, Bad Feminist,. There’s also Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, a quirky graphic memoir from Roz Chast, and On Immunity: An Innoculation, Eula Bliss’s rebuttal to the idea that something controversial (in this case, the anti-vaccine movement) can’t be discussed without name-calling.
Here are the Irrefutable Top 21—books that showed up on at least 5 lists.
Happy reading, nerds.
(PS: Mom, don’t buy any of these until after Christmas!)
*aggregation, data entry, spreadsheets, coffee
115 thoughts on “The irrefutable best books of 2014, as determined by science*”
Thanks for sharing- look forward to reading some on the list 🙂
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Trust me, I won’t. I’m in the midst of a wonderful book: ‘All the Light We Cannot See.’ Actually reading something that’s won major awards. Next up, Matt Taibbii’s latest on income inequality. Then there’s the stack next to my bed that probably looks like yours ; )
Diggin’ the blog, and your pervasive humor throughout.
You are hilarious as well as extremely well-read (!) You will love Station 11. I’m a jillion years old and I couldn’t put it down. But neither could my daughter, who is probably more your Ballpark Age. (Hi, Kira’s Mom!) Anyway, your list gives me some great new material, so thank you. And if you do enjoy Station 11 as much as I think you will, give ‘The Book of Strange New Things’ a try. Amazing Michel Faber. I read it all at one go, it’s that addictive.
Thanks for the recommendations! And let me just say – you don’t look a day over a half-jillion.
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I love your set up so I have nominated you for the Liebster award.
You can find more information here
Station Eleven has been sitting on my reading list for far too long. Thanks for reminding me to bump it up. 😉
Interesting list of books. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Love lists like this, thanks for posting!
Love lists like this, thanks for posting!
It is a shame I do not know a single book from your list. This is mainly due to the fact I was reading Song of Fire and Ice books for many months. I also went through Palahniuk’s Lullaby, or The Stranger by Camus. I was lucky and attended the Festival of Authors in Toronto, where I bought so many books that I’m still ashamed by not opening them. Thanks for your list though, I will definitely check it out.
So looking forward to reading the whole list 🙂 Thanks for posting!
I always love a good book, so thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing, I’ll have to read some of these.
Thanks. Now i need to get round to reading these. If interested check out my new blog. I will be writing a review about a couple books 🙂
Nice post! I look forward to reading some of these.
thank for sharing
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saving for later
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I loved Gilead even though I had a difficult time relating to the speaker. I found it very moving, and I’m not religious.
Cool thanks for sharing!
i’m a bookworm too. but seems like these are the books which i ought to read.. wonderful ands persuasive blog
It’s great to have the recommendations – I’m looking forward to a year of books!
I believe that I am a good reader until when I enter a library or read notes from people like you. Then I get confirmed that I am an illiterate. Nice to see your blog. I would like to follow them.
I thought the “Road to Wigan Pier” is good reading. Thanks for recommending Phil klay’s “Re-Deployment”.
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awsome collection i must start to catch up do you have a listing im browsing your sight now first time here
Reblogged this on eNISED eMARKETING firm and commented:
welcome to enised blogspot
Thank you for sharing.
Reblogged this on sammyhatesya's Blog and commented:
I enjoyed this blog and I think you, if I have any Readers, might as well!
Reblogged this on aprilshower and commented:
Just when I was looking for a list of books to catch up on …
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Your cool that cool
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Reblogged this on jonjominns's Blog and commented:
Many Thanks for posting your list. Have shared with my readers and will be reading some titles from your list myself.
A lot of books have been listed, The schedule has been made to… finish them
Great choices =)
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Great list. It’s such a shame that “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” didn’t make the list!
I am looking forward to Redeployment, On Immunity, and Being Mortal just as soon as those other people who go to the library get their grubby hands off of them. Nice overview.
Thanks, I needed new books to add to my to-read list!
I surely didn’t make 32 books last year – maybe 15 – and I don’t have tv!
After “7 Killings,” which I intend to get to soon, try James’ “Book of Night Women.” It is astonishing.
Thanks! But man if it’s halfway as dark as 7 Killings I’ll def need something upbeat in between.
Thanks for sharing)) a useful reading
I will have to check some of these out! If I ever finish The Stand by Stephen King then Bad Feminist will be first on my list!
Power through! The Stand is super long, but it’s a good one.
I just copied your list for my purse – so I can bring your suggestions with me when I escape this 25 below weather for some beach reading! thanks – I’ll read what you read – haha
Nice! If you haven’t read Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, I highly recommend it as a good beach read, or a good “sitting inside covered with blankets wishing I was at the beach” read.
One of the most moving, inspirational and courageous books I have ever read was this last year’s “Unbroken”
Yesss, it’s actually my next review!
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I too have been bad with reading books in 2014. I’m still caught up with The Goldfinch. I look forward to reading the David Mitchell and Sarah Waters books.
Congratulations n being Freshly Pressed!
Hey thanks! The Goldfinch took some dedication, but it’s worth it.
Nice collocation of books and share to all persons
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Reblogged this on Phattest and commented:
I’m such a book enthusiast and this post is going to be so helpful in deciding my reads of choice in the following weeks.
This is so delightfully written that I totally laughed out loud at my desk and got busted for not-quite-working at my desk. TOTALLY worth it.
Plz follow dishaseta.wordpress.com
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I love that I don’t know half of these books. Now I can look up for them and possibly read one or two…or more this year! Thankies
Wow… what have I been reading all year? None of these! Good ideas to start my 2015 book binge maybe.
I certainly want to read more in 2014 as well! Thank you!
Reblogged this on Sleep, Coffee, SharePoint and commented:
I have ‘The Habit’!
Thank you for the honest and great review. I look forward to adding these books onto my list of must reads. 😊
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As someone who considers themself a prolific reader I am ashamed to say I haven’t read any of these yet! However, I always tend to be a couple of years behind on books as I try to squeeze in as many classics as possible. I will be adding some of these to my neverending ‘to read’ pile, so thank you!
Wow! Thank you for sharing this amazing list. May have to quit school so I can have free time to read. 😉
Again, thank you,
Anya N. Burnett
Thanks for sharing the list. And are you serious about 32 books being mediocre? haha, that’s a good year for me when I have nice weather to lay out by the pool and read
It’s a good run for a year, but considering the goal was 1/week, there’s def room for improvement!
Gilead–I’ve been on the fence as to whether to read. I had heard so many good things but a quick scan–same as you–just was not resonating with me.
Well the upside is it’s short. So maybe read that one to get a feel for her, and then decide about the rest.
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Ah! I am not happy to see the absence of All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr!
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Wow ! What a nice list of books …
Many of these are on my 2015 to-read list. Of the books I read last year, here are my Top 14 of 2014.
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For those of us who love complex literature, I can personally recommend Bone clocks by David Mitchell….loved it!
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Kristaaaa get some for LFL!
Reblogged this on emilyruane12's Blog and commented:
interesting, keeping in mind for future reads for 2015
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Fantastic work! Thank you!
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Great blog! I have actually even read some of these! Check out my new up and coming blog!
Nice.. I am currently putting together a reading list for this year, i will be sure to incorporate some of these.. Thanks much!
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I see you are reading “Going Clear”. I read it early last year and I thought it was an extraordinarily good book on a somewhat taboo subject. Now I hear there is a documentary which I am anxious to see.
Interesting list… would love to see a version with maybe the top 10 simply published in English language… would it change (not suggesting you do this – just a curiousity). A few added to my list but to be fair, I’d heard of few of these!
Thanks for sharing
Reblogged this on decodingindia and commented:
A great collection!!!!
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Great List! Thanks for doing this instead of me. Have reblogged too. 🙂
Reblogged this on falsefabs and commented:
As posted from original poster. A great collection of literature to check out.